The main priority for Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) of the United Kingdom is to address significant requirements of schools by building compliance, improving poor building condition, and expanding existing facilities or floor spaces. However, Comprehensive Future discovered that grammar schools are disproportionately benefiting from CIF.
The fund is a government incentive that provides funding for specific improvements of schools and academies that has a significant impact on pupils’ progress. Applicants can apply for funding through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) via an online portal.
Three main criteria are used by the government to specify whether a school should receive funding. First is the project need, where schools are assessed to determine the bulk of the funding. Second, project planning, where applicants need to show that the risks are understood and the solutions are attainable. The last test is the value of money; there will be an assessment of the breakdown of costs to see if they meet the demands of work.
In 2016, it has been reported that twenty grammar schools are given financial resources to construct new buildings, while only nineteen comprehensive schools are funded. Later in 2017, there were eight projects for grammar school classroom expansion, while only seven projects for comprehensive schools were approved. There are only 163 grammar schools and more than 3,200 comprehensive schools in the country.
Last year, applicants for CIF were more than 3,800 schools, but there are only 1435 of these applicants successfully received funding. Melissa Benn, chair of Comprehensive Future, reported that many of the 2,200 projects that got turned down last year are with a clear and urgent need for essential repair and renovation. Benn said that the government had funded grammar schools millions for building new science blocks, sports halls, and sixth form centers.
Given the fact that there are only 163 grammar schools in the country, Benn said that “it makes no sense” that the government is approving more projects in grammar schools than comprehensive schools.
Benn said that the way the government has used CIF is “secretive and undemocratic.” She aforementioned that they are aware of the government’s plans of funding grammar schools £50 million for further expansion, but based from the results of the CIF; it appears that the government has been using the fund for similar means.
“The Conservative government’s obsession with grammar schools, despite the now overwhelming evidence that selective schools damage the education of most children and add no real benefit even to those who go to them, suggests that they care more about the minority of children who pass the 11-plus than the majority attending comprehensive schools,” Benn concluded.